More business-friendly: Govt proposes clutch of amendment to GST law
To iron out issues concerning implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), the Centre on Monday proposed several pro-business amendments to GST laws such as restricting GST liability under reverse charge basis on procurements from unregistered vendors to specified class of registered persons to be notified by the GST Council and allowing businesses to have separate registration for each place of business in a state. Also, the input tax credit entitlement on vehicles will be relaxed to cover the passenger vehicles having seating capacity of not more than thirteen persons, in case these are used for specific (rather than personal) purposes. So ITC will now be available for dumpers, work-trucks, fork-lift trucks and other special purpose vehicles.
While the changes are termed business-friendly and supportive of ease of doing business, sections of the industry could be affected by the provisions relating to restriction on transfer of credit balance of education cess, secondary and higher education cess, Krishi Kalyan cess, additional duties of excise (textile and textile articles) etc. “Specific denial of transition of credit of cesses like education cess etc would be against the tax position that some tax payers had taken.” said Abhishek Jain, tax partner, EY India.
Pratik Jain, partner and leader, Indirect Tax, PwC, said: It is a welcome step to invite public comments for the proposed amendments in the GST law. The amendments such as amendment in definition of supply, widening of credits on vehicles and restricting reverse charge liability for procurements from unregistered vendors to specified set of persons are welcome.”
He, however, added that the proposed amendments do not cover some of the amendments which were already highlighted to the GST Council such as the tax liability on services deemed to be provided by the branch offices to foreign offices/parents. “It would be interesting to see which provisions are proposed to be given retrospective effect and which are given effect prospectively, Jain said.
In all, the Centre’s draft proposals to amend GST laws contains 46 amendments on which the public could give their suggestions till July 15. Significantly, an option is proposed to be given to every person to obtain separate registration for each place of business in a state. Previously, a single registration is required to be obtained for all the places of business in a state, except when they were operating as a separate business vertical. Further, the provisions for individual registration of multiple SEZ units have also been proposed to be introduced.
In a tax-payer friendly amendment, it is now proposed to allow ITC in respect of food and beverages, health services and travel benefits to employees, which are obligatory for an employer to provide to its employees under law. Merchant sale transactions where the goods do not enter India, sale of goods stored in customs bonded warehouse and high sea sales transactions are specified as transactions which do not amount to supply of goods as well as services, resolving the ambiguity of treatment of such transactions.
As reported by FE recently, a group of ministers (GoM) led by Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi is set to recommend to the GST Council that a section in the GST Act concerning the reverse charge mechanism be scrapped as “it discriminates against unregistered dealers while not adding much to the revenue.” Under the RCM rule, registered dealers are now required to make tax payments in case they procure goods from unregistered ones. This has been resisted by the registered small businesses as they find it cumbersome to comply when goods are purchased from dealers outside the GST ambit. Since the GST’s rollout in July last year, RCM has remained suspended and has recently been further deferred till September 30.
The amendments also seek to give effect to some of the decisions taken by the GST Council in the past like raising the turnover threshold for availing composition scheme increased from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore. In the suggested amendments, definition of supply is proposed to be amended to remove specific inclusion of activities referred to in schedule II to remove an anomaly that in some cases, even though the activity specifically mentioned in schedule II did not amount to supply, due to deemed inclusion of such activities in definition of supply, it attracted tax.